Kate Andrews students' entrepreneurial spirit gives boost to charities

 page image
Posted on:
Students who operated the profitable OzzyBloos present a donation of $700 to Little Warriors.

Marketing class learns how to turn a profit and give back to the community

One of the goals of the Inspiring Education initiative in Alberta is “entrepreneurial,” and a group of students at Kate Andrews High School have been taking it quite literally.

For the past three years, the school has offered a marketing class, a three-credit work experience course that sees students operating a business, complete with market research, promotions and sales. There have also been profits, which students happily donated to charity.

Led by teacher Lucy Johnson, the course is based on Junior Achievement’s In-School Company program and supplemented with additional material from Johnson.

The students themselves fill all the necessary roles in their company, from president on down the line.

Brayden Kluss, a Grade 12 student who served as president of a company called KA Sports Apparel during last semester, said his company marketed Kate Andrews branded clothing, advertising throughout the school and setting up a sales stand at lunch hours. Students could buy sports bags, sweat pants, hoodies and sweat shirts.

“It encompassed as many aspects of a small business as we could in a class, which was awesome,” Kluss says.

Also last semester, a second student-run company named OzzyBloos was operating with three departments. One was focused on pizza sales, another on clothing and a third on promoting a student ski trip.

Brandi Unser, a Grade 11 student who led the pizza sales initiative, said the pizza unit was the most successful branch of OzzyBloos. The unit set a goal or $200 profit and wound up clearing $587 last semester.

“It’s fun, too,” says Unser, who is taking the work experience course again this semester. “You get to learn a lot to run something. It teaches you so much.”

Kluss, who enjoys entrepreneurialism so much he’s attended the Alberta Youth Entrepreneurship Summer Camp as both a participant and counsellor, says one of the challenges is to keep fellow students motivated when not everyone comes to the project with the same enthusiasm.

“You need to get everyone to contribute and collaborate,” he says. “The leadership strategy is aligning everyone with a vision that works for everyone. . . Aligning all the people ideally to somewhere they’re going to be successful felt awesome.”

Real world work, challenges and pressure

The interpersonal interactions and challenges are “very real,” he says.

“I felt a lot of pressure to make it succeed.”

Students not only learn business principles. They learn leadership, time management and gain self-confidence.

“It definitely pushes you out of your comfort zone which is good because you grow,” Kluss says.

That was true for Unser. Self-described as shy, she stood in front of the entire student body to promote her business during an assembly.

The experience left both students more appreciative of the small business operators in their community and convinced Kluss that his future is in running his own business.

“If you fail, it’s all on you and if you succeed, it is also on you,” he says. “It’s also humbling in that sense because it is a team effort. It’s cool to see how much more successful you can be as a collective than as one person.”

Unser isn’t sure yet if her future is in starting a business, but she so enjoyed the experience in the first semester that she signed up for the course again in second.

“I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everyone but I do think it’s something everyone should get a taste of,” she says, crediting her teacher for making the course so welcoming and fun.

Johnson says the marketing class is a challenge for her as a teacher as well.

“It forces me to step out of my comfort zone by letting it be a student-driven course,” Johnson says. “As much as I want to keep the class structured, I know that my students will get more out of the class by running their own business.”

The students say the best part was giving back to the community the profits they made.

Kluss’s class donated their pooled profits to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lethbridge and District. Students shopped for Christmas gifts for 20 boys and girls ranging in age from two to 15. They wrapped the gifts and presented them to a representative of the agency at a school assembly in December.

As for Unser and OzzyBloos, the bulk of the profits were donated to Little Warriors, an organization devoted to child sexual abuse education and prevention. The cheque for $700 was presented to Kate Andrews student Alison Lee. Lee organizes a community Christmas tree lighting event in Coaldale to raise money and awareness for Little Warriors. Another $75.50 of OzzyBloos profits was given the Kate Andrews’ We Create Change campaign which is raising money to build a school in the developing world.

In second semester, Unser served as president of a company called Paw Prints, which proved to be another profitable pizza and clothing venture. Paw Prints’ profits of $634 was split between Make a Wish Foundation and Ronald McDonald House.